IN 1992, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (Decs) issued the Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, among the provisions of which requires college faculty members to have a master’s degree as a minimum educational qualification for acquiring regular status.
Pursuant thereto, petitioner University of the East (UE) hired respondent Mariti D. Bueno in 1997 and respondent Analiza F. Pepanio in 2000, both on a semester-to-semester basis, to teach in its college. They could not qualify for probationary or regular status because they lacked postgraduate degrees.
Respondents argue that UE hired them in 1997 and 2000 when what was in force was the 1994 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between UE and the faculty union. Since that CBA did yet require a master’s degree for acquiring regular status and since respondents had already complied with the three requirements of the CBA, they should be regarded as having attained permanent or regular status. Does this argument find merit?
But the policy requiring postgraduate degrees of college teachers was provided in the Manual of Regulations as early as 1992. Indeed, recognizing this, the 1994 CBA provided even then that UE was to extend only semester-to-semester appointments to college faculty staffs, like respondents, who did not possess the minimum qualifications for their positions.
Besides, as the Court held in Escorpizo v. University of Baguio, 366 Phil. 166 (1999), a school CBA must be read in conjunction with statutory and administrative regulations governing faculty qualifications. Such regulations form part of a valid CBA without need for the parties to make express reference to it. While the contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions, as they may see fit, the right to contract is still subject to the limitation that the agreement must not be contrary to law or public policy.
The State through Batas Pambansa Bilang 232 (The Education Act of 1982) delegated the administration of the education system and the supervision and regulation of educational institutions to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (now Department of Education). Accordingly, in promulgating the Manual of Regulations, DECS was exercising its power of regulation over educational institutions, which includes prescribing the minimum academic qualifications for teaching personnel.
In 1994 the legislature transferred the power to prescribe such qualifications to the Commission on Higher Education (Ched). Ched’s charter authorized it to set minimum standards for programs and institutions of higher learning. The Manual of Regulations continued to apply to colleges and universities and suppletorily the Joint Order until 2010 when Ched issued a Revised Manual of Regulations which specifically applies only to institutions involved in tertiary education.
The requirement of a masteral degree for tertiary education teachers is not unreasonable. The operation of educational institutions involves public interest. The government has a right to ensure that only qualified persons, in possession of sufficient academic knowledge and teaching skills, are allowed to teach in such institutions. Government regulation in this field of human activity is desirable for protecting, not only the students, but the public as well from ill-prepared teachers, who are lacking in the required scientific or technical knowledge. They may be required to take an examination or to possess postgraduate degrees as prerequisite to employment. (University Of The East, et. al. vs. Analiza F. Pepanio and Mariti D. Bueno, G.R. No. 193897, Jan. 23, 2013).
(Almirante is a former labor arbiter)